Students clash over guns rights group

Students for Self-Defense tabling in the quad took an intentionally provocative stance, act surprised when people were provoked


Adria Watson -The State Hornet

Students attempt to have a more peaceful debate about gun rights amid a shouting match outside the Library Quad Thursday. The booth from Students For Self-Defense attracted a crowd after a shouting match erupted between two veterans.

Will Coburn, Ashton Byers, and Missy Amaya

A shouting match erupted between a crowd of students over a Students for Self-Defense booth on the walkway leading out of the Library Quad Thursday.

A crowd gathered around 2 p.m. after an exchange between Philip Olding, a mechanical engineering major and U.S. Army veteran who was tabling for Students for Self-Defense, and Ray Puppolo, a visitor to campus, became heated.

Puppolo, a retired U.S. Army veteran and educator, was on campus visiting his son when the confrontation started. Puppolo said he has always felt very strongly about guns.

“I served my country, two years in Vietnam,” Puppolo said. “I promised myself that when I got out that I would not have a rifle, and that my kids would never have a rifle.”

According to Puppolo, he asked if Olding had seen combat and if he had to kill anyone during his service. That is when Olding started yelling.

Olding said that he felt justified in his response.

“He asked me, ‘How many people did you kill when you were in the military?’ ” Olding said. “Yeah, I freaked out on him and I cussed at him, and I will do that every time.”

Olding said other students started yelling at him after Puppolo left.

“I had someone come up to me and say I’m a Nazi, I’m a racist, and I’m KKK because I was Army,” Olding said. “I will not stand by as people ask me how many people I’ve killed in the military.”

Puppolo said that he disagreed that Olding’s response was justified.

“If you want to present your side of the coin, just present your side, don’t yell,” Puppolo said.

The yelling match escalated as a crowd formed, then an unidentified student helped to remove Puppolo from the crowd.

“She told me, ‘Let us handle this, let the students deal with this,’ ” Puppolo said.

One of the bystanders Karenna Pullen, a Sac State student in communication studies, deaf studies and theater, said that the people at the table were being antagonistic before Puppolo got involved.

“They were just screaming at people, as they walked by, ‘Oh you man enough to talk?’ ” Pullen said.

As Puppolo was being interviewed, Brice Adams, the vice president of the College Republicans, shouted, “Don’t talk with that guy [Puppolo], he’s full of shit.”

Adams said the booth had intentionally provocative slogans such as “Are you triggered by guns?” on one side to catch attention.

“A lot of people on the political right side of the spectrum like to use their sense of humor for example to catch people’s attention, and some people like to take politics seriously,” Adams said. “Yes, it is a serious matter, but it should be taken in a way where emotion should be more retracted from it, and people should think more logically.”

Adams said he did not believe that Students for Self-Defense being provocative impaired people’s ability to react logically.

“There are other people who are genuinely attracted by it,” Adams said. “There’s a good amount of conservative students on campus who keep their head down.”

The crowds dispersed around 3 p.m. when the foot traffic between classes moved through the walkway.